From education to employment

Why focusing on yourself will accelerate your job search in Covid

Matt Sedgwick, founder of London recruitment company, Key Focus Consulting

Jobseekers should view the Covid-19 pandemic as a catalyst for positive change, rather than a brake on their search for work.

However, they need to make the most of a seven-second opportunity to shine… and deal with their ‘digital footprint’.

That’s the view of Matt Sedgwick, founder of London recruitment company, Key Focus Consulting.

Surveying a jobs market badly damaged by the health crisis, he said an already bad situation for jobseekers had been made worse by employers tightening their purse strings and by recruiters expecting people to jump through endless hoops to get the posts they wanted.

“Reports are coming in of jobseekers taking huge pay cuts to take a job and even being rejected after seven or eight stages of interviews,” he said. “And they are being asked more than ever to prepare presentations on case studies for their interview – also known as free consulting.”

He added that employers were adding to people’s stress levels by failing to communicate with them.

“Employers are sitting comfortable on their thrones and not understanding that talent in the jobs market is trying to communicate with them,” he said. “Feedback today is more important than ever. With mental health being hit hard by this crisis, being ghosted in the Covid world leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.”

Matt said it was now for jobseekers to be in control of their destiny. They should take a long look at themselves in the mirror, accept who they are, and stop comparing themselves with other jobseekers, peers, friends and the “all-seeing oracle that is the employer”.

People had become more attached to their own consciousness during the pandemic, and it was time to harness this and work out exactly what they had to offer companies.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a school leaver, a general manager or a chief executive, you have something different to offer than anyone else, something that is not replicable, and that is you,” he added.

The key to landing the job was an individual’s achievements, and their “unique combination” of skills and personality. For this, the CV was a jobseeker’s best friend… but also the most ignored document they possessed.

Matt said a hiring manager or recruiter would spend just seven seconds looking at it, and 84 per cent of CVs ended up in the recycling bin, so it was crucial to make those seven seconds count.

“Load up your editing software and ask yourself, ‘If I had seven seconds to read this, what would I be looking for?’” he added. “The answer is, ‘My achievements’.

“There is plenty of literature and books on producing a bulletproof CV; now is the time to act and bring yours up to scratch.”

But jobseekers also had to remember that in an era dominated by online interviews, hiring managers were finding it hard to identify ‘the one’ and were donning the private investigator hat, getting out the magnifying glass and looking for an individual’s murky backstory.

Matt said it was vital that an individual’s LinkedIn account told the story they wanted it to, since 98 per cent of recruiters used the platform to assess people’s suitability for a role.

And it was important to go through Facebook accounts: “Old comments you made, the comments made about you, the pictures you uploaded, that hangover post, all affect your personal brand.”

But any post to a social media site, or comments on blogs, also formed part of a person’s digital footprint and needed addressing.

“Auditing, managing and curating will always keep you in the running for that job,” said Matt, and he suggested these steps to boost a person’s chances:

  1. master your cover letter
  2. learn about leveraging video to accompany your CV
  3. learn to master the techniques of interviews.

Addressing jobseekers, he added: “Taking these steps and focusing on yourself while Covid restricts your movements and changes the way employers will interact with you will be the best investment in yourself that you can make.”

Matt said after a person had mastered this approach it would be time to apply again for that dream job, and he predicted: “I guarantee there will be a seismic shift back in your favour.”

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